You're driving home after a long day at work, when the driver behind you carelessly crashes into your vehicle. Your car is totaled, and you're unable to move your right leg, which turns out to be fractured. Due to your broken leg, you're forced to miss work for several weeks without pay. These unforeseen injuries and their resulting financial burdens can be devastating.
If you have sustained injuries and missed work due to a car accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for the wages you lost. Read on to find out how to make a lost wages claim.
What Are Lost Wages?
In a car accident case, "lost wages" refers to the money you would have earned from your employer from the time of the accident to the date of settlement or judgment. In order to get your lost wages, you must prove that the injuries that caused you to be out of work were directly related to the accident. You must prove that they were not related to any other event following the accident. If your claim is accepted, you'll be able to get the wages you would have earned had you not missed work while receiving medical treatment and during recovery.
As you proceed through such a claims process, you'll likely encounter two terms, which are "lost earning capacity" and "lost compensation." Keep in mind that they refer to two different types of damages, and they may be considered separately throughout the claims process. Lost earning capacity involves any disability that results in diminished capacity to work. Lost compensation, on the other hand, refers not only to lost wages, but also other financial benefits that you would have earned if it wasn't for the accident. Example of such other financial benefits could include, but are not limited to, pay bonuses and a variety of other employment perks.
How to Submit a Lost Wages Claim
Typically, you have the following options to recover your lost wages in a car accident case:
- Make a request to your insurance company, if your policy includes that coverage
- Make a request to the other driver's insurance company, if they are at fault
- File a lawsuit against the other driver
Before submitting a lost wages claim, you should know what's covered under the terms of the insurance policy. The damages you can recover will likely depend on the type of insurance coverage you have, such as:
- Bodily injury coverage: If the other driver caused the accident and you were injured by the accident, you will be able to submit a lost wages claim through that driver's liability bodily injury coverage.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage: If a driver without insurance caused the accident, or if you have exhausted the at-fault party's coverage limits, you can collect lost wages through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage: No matter who was at fault, you will be able to collect lost wages from your own insurance company up to the policy limit under PIP coverage.
Keep in mind that plans can differ. It's important to review the details of your plan to determine if it features coverage like the three varieties listed above.
Once you submit a request to the insurance company, it will most likely require you to:
- Fill out an employment authorization form, which allows your employer to give information about your employment to the insurance company,
- Get an independent medical examination, and
- Submit relevant medical documents.
When you are submitting a claim, make sure you include detailed and accurate statements about your lost wages. If any of the supporting documents are incomplete or inaccurate, your lost wages claim could be denied. Additionally, read all of these forms carefully because they will grant insurance companies access to your medical records and personal employment information.
How to Prove Lost Wages
When you submit your claim, make sure to attach the following supporting documents as evidence:
- Doctor's Note: Before you can take time off from work, you must have sustained actual physical injuries. You will need a doctor's note or disability slip, which contains recommended time to take days off from work due to your injuries. This note must contain information about the injury you sustained as a result of the accident.
- Paystubs or Other Wage Documents: To prove lost wages, you will need your paystubs from before and after the accident. If they are not available, you can also submit your W-2s or your tax returns from previous years. If you are self-employed, you can submit your tax return and other relevant documents from last year to prove the amount of money you would have earned during the period of your recovery. Examples of such other relevant documents could be profit-and-loss statements, invoices, receipts, bank statements, or finance-related correspondence.
- Wage Verification Letter from Your Employer: In addition to paystubs, you will need to submit a letter from your employer to confirm important employment details. The letter should contain the days you were absent, your pay level, and the number of hours you work during each pay period.
Get Legal Help with Making a Lost Wages Claim
While simply submitting your recent paystubs can serve as evidence, it may not be sufficient to collect lost wages. Making a lost wages claim can involve complicated legal issues regarding your medical condition. To get the compensation you deserve, consult with an experienced car accident attorney near you.